First Guaranty to purchase Union Bank for $43 million

Sale of 109-year-old Marksville bank expected by end of year

Marksville-based Union Bank will be bought by First Guaranty Bancshares of Hammond for $43 million later this year, First Guaranty CEO Alton Lewis said.

There are still some steps to be finished before the sale is completed, but all indications are it will go through.

“We are seeking this merger to join forces with a bank with almost $2 billion of assets, which will help us grow and offer more services and products to our customers,” Union Bank President Darrell Ryland said.

If the proposed “agreement to merge” is approved, Ryland said he will remain president of the company’s Central Louisiana market area.

“I am not retiring and all of our branches will remain open,” he added.

Ryland has been president of the bank since the 1980s when he obtained control of over 50 percent of the stock in a trust agreement with other stockholders.

Charles Riddle III -- who owns 20 years and whose family has been involved in Union Bank for many years, including his grandfather Eddie Gremillion as a past president -- said the proposal “is a good plan. It will be good for the stockholders.”

The proposed acquisition would give First Guaranty all of the outstanding common stock and pay cash to all of the bank’s stockholders, pending regulatory approval.

The proposal reflects 1 1/2 times the estimated book value of Union Bank.

The acquisition would expand First Guaranty's market north of I-10 “into a part of Louisiana where we have never done business and also tie together all of our operations,” Lewis said.

First Guaranty has more than two dozen branches from Hammond to Lake Charles, while The Union Bank has its main bank and six branches in Avoyelles and Rapides parishes.

Union Bank’s income increased from $1.3 million in June 2018 to $1.6 million as of this past June. It had $209 million in deposits and $261 million in total assets.

Union Bank has 85 employees and also operates Union Insurance Agency and Union Bank Mortgage Co.

First Guaranty is much larger, with $1.7 billion in deposits and $1.9 billion in total assets. It has almost 350 employees.

First Guaranty’s net income over the first half of the year is down by $2 million compared to the same time last year -- from $9.2 million to $7.2 million.

This will be the first time in Marksville’s history that a locally based bank has been sold to an out-of-parish bank.

The only Avoyelles bank to be purchased by a national chain was Bunkie Bank, bought by Hibernia which is now Capital One Bank.

The sale of Union will leave two locally owned banks in the parish -- Cottonport Bank and Simmesport State Bank.

The Union Bank was founded in 1910 in Marksville. It was one of two banks to survive the Great Depression of the 1930s. The other is Cottonport Bank.

The bank’s original building still stands on Main Street. The bank operated in that location until 1935, when it moved down the street to its present headquarters across from the courthouse.

Union Bank started adding branches in 1972.

Currently, there are four banks in Marksville: Capital One, Cottonport Bank, Red River Bank and The Union Bank.

Simmesport Bank has branches in Simmesport and Mansura.

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